Posts Tagged ‘SMILETRON’

Andrew Kilpatrick: Whilst I Was Gone

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Due to my (at the time of writing this) extended period of absence from reviewing, I decided to do some sort of wrap up; a review of ten releases that had come out in my absence. So, here are all ten, assembled into a single blog post for your viewing pleasure! Originally written for my Blog (TWG, links found here), it’s my pleasure to be cursing Chiptune=Win with it too. Enjoy! PS, links to the releases are on the titles!

DESUMATE- SELF_TITLED

Having started releasing EPs January of this year, DESUMATE is a bit late to the chipthrash party. Moreover, as the genre has surpassed its peak of popularity, the releases of last year from titans such as Kool Skull and shitbird have long cemented a certain bar of quality to be aspired to and judged against.

DESUMATE is, overall, almost a definition of chipthrash. Focus on drums, dissonant warbling melodies, glissandos into the deepest recesses of pitch and capital letters. However, whilst DESUMATE does get a lot right, for instance the drums are frequently brilliant, especially on ‘COMBO BREAKER’, he’s yet to achieve full effectiveness through his apparent inability to sense when boredom might set in. The three tracks total nine minutes, but the release would be far harder hitting if it were cut down to five. ‘MAXIMUM THRASH’ and ‘GRANNY BASHER’ just never seem to end, made further painful by the truly disgusting melodic instruments.

Overall, whilst the drums are outstanding (the beats on ‘GRANNY BASHER’ are truly remarkable too), the release falls flat due to a trait all too familiar for new chip composers; a lack of eclecticism. Some focus and meticulous attention to detail and DESUMATE’s next release could quite easily reach the bar of quality set by his forefathers, or, if the quality of track ‘COMBO BREAKER’ is anything to go by, even surpass them.

 

Dark Oyster- Wizard EP

The words ‘LSDJ’ and ‘debut release’, when put together, strike fear into my heart. With that dangerous combination usually comes an excess of connotations; badly produced, blandly written, and weakly melodic, all wrapped together in a sound as thin as a squashed cracker. Luckily Dark Oyster raised a middle finger to this norm.

Relief washed over me within the first seconds of ‘Something is Amiss Pt. 1’. The melodies throughout this entire release are, honestly, gorgeous. ‘Something is…’ creeps along like a cut from Infinity Shred, ‘Short Break’ has so much melodic swagger KODEK would be jealous and ‘Let’s Go To The Graffiti Festival’, mixes beautiful croons with Russian melodies to form what the offspring of a Solarbear and Dorothy’s Magic Bag collaboration would sound like.

It’s not all plain sailing of course. Final track ‘The Machine’ is expendable, some of the instrument choices, most of note the sliding instrument in the opening track, are weakly conceived, and sometimes staccato is used in such abundance the pace slows to a stuttering halt. That being said, if this is a debut, there can only be bigger on the horizon. I predict we have another Auxcide on our hands.

 

SMILETRON- APOLLO

Prolific rarely holds as much meaning as it does when being applied to Smiletron. Known as much for his frequent and quality output as the chilled EDM expanses within these expulsions, Smiletron has become a staple figure in the chip scene. With so many releases under his belt and the recent announcement of dissolution, is this a fitting tribute, as one of his last exports, to his vibrant career?

Apollo’ is nothing revolutionary, though that never felt like the point of his work. The first thing you’ll notice is familiarity. ‘High quality chilled chip-tinged EDM jams are the manifesto, and it’s one he’s been preaching for years. As such, by now not a second feels forced; it’s like music flows from Smiletron’s fingertips at the will of his psyche. He manages the ludicrous task of making electronic music sound genuinely organic.

The title track is gorgeous; the familiar mixture of memorable micro-melodies and huge beats over warm analog tones settles the atmosphere quickly. ‘Eclipse’ follows a familiar pattern, and ‘Yours’ mixes an 80s vibe with modern day EDM and some relaxed breakbeats. The three tracks coast along without force; sometimes with too little force in fact (moments of ‘Eclipse’ are SO dynamically flat the song almost disappears if you’re not paying attention). That tiny qualm aside, this is another fantastic Smiletron, another notch in his great discography. At least when he leaves us there’ll be a surplus of tracks to remember him by.

 

EGR- DeathMurderGo

EGR, aka Arnie Holder, is the owner of Datathrash Recordings, THE home of chipthrash. When he releases something the chipscene should take notice; this man played a huge part in shaping one of the scenes most recent stylistic explosions. He’s chipthrash’s godfather, if you will. He also doesn’t release much, so his few expulsions should be lapped up with haste, and his most recent, ‘DeathMurderGo’, is by far his most destructively brutal.

‘DeathMurderGo’ was recorded through a microphoned practice amp and sounds as such. Raw as fuck. If Kurt Ballou produced a chiptune album, this is what it would sound like, a bludgeoning mixture of aggression, understated groove and noise-distorting walls of sound. ‘Death’s beats hit like a charging bison, ‘Go’ sounds like the death of an albatross and ‘Murder’ blends the two atmospheres into a forebodingly swaggering cement mixer of noise and violence.

The production really is perfect for this release. Whilst it may not be for everyone, anyone even remotely interested in noise or chipthrash genres will find themselves captivated by the concrete slabs of produced perfection (through nonchalance). Whilst moments of ‘Murder’ and ‘Go’ could do with being opened up a bit (they tend to dissipate into pure sound experiments, but that might be a bad thing), this is still a fantastic release. I think, for the good of chiptune, we should collectively sign a petition stating EGR must write a full-length. We deserve it, and he has clearly got the talent for it.

 

Xyce- papillions

Cheapbeats, the Tokyo based label/ event organiser, recently released their third offering, xyce’s ‘papillions’. Xyce are an amalgamation of Dutch chiptuners xylo and cerror, and this is their 5th release to date. Picking up where their previous works left off, ‘papillons’ continues the xyce tradition of using Atari, Amiga and old PC sounds to create demoscene styled chiptune with a huge focus on melody, whilst delving slightly into multiple other genres.

The first thing that jumps out from ‘papillions’ is the melodies throughout are absolutely fantastic. ‘avonture au japon’ sounds like a beach personified in audio, the motif for ‘ombres’ is pure sublime, as are the arps that speak it, and ‘grecque’ sounds like hyperactive plush; marshmallow dripping from speakers.  Also, the demoscene theme expands to include collaborations with demosceners Radix and Malmen. Malmen’s contribution takes place on the title track, with twinkling instruments and melancholy in abundance. The Radix collaboration ‘rainbow dash!’  is the albums real highlight however, towering over surrounding tracks with a ferocious sense of dynamics and melodies, dipping into modern house and EDM with unrepentant ease.

Such a focus on melody comes at a price however. The notion of dynamics and timbre are often glazed over, and as such a few tracks, like ‘samedi’, ‘bequille’ and ‘feuilles’, stumble by inoffensively and forgettably. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t bad tracks, they just get lost in the crowd. Less a detriment on xyce’s composing as on their awareness of effective album structure.

That being said, with tracks like the aforementioned ‘rainbow dash!’ and the Miami-house and polka swag-rife ‘subsonique deux’, xyce have another hugely successful release under their belt. Whilst it doesn’t sound like their definitive statement quite yet, it is still another example of chiptune’s continuing statements of quality. And when their definitive statement does come, and it will, we can be assured we’ll have the European 4mat fully realised.

 

Peaches The Wale- Lovely

Godinpants’ alter ego/ nautical hand puppet Peaches has released ‘her’ third EP recently. Featuring the familiar Peaches sound, sampled glitched up breakbeat with drill n bass, jungle and dips into seapunk, ‘Lovely’ cements this alias as one of the highest quality ‘jokes’ the scene has ever witnessed.

The title track has an infectious hip hop gleam, ‘Australia Exam’ uses samples to form a party-rife rave cyclone and ‘Jungle Jungle’ features a formidable fall into jungle mayhem which is, in two words, fucking astonishing. Also, moments of ‘Grumpy Wombat Tantrum’ go full Aphex Twin mode, and when it does it’s captivating.

‘Grumpy Wombat Tantrum’ is nowhere near the quality of the other tracks though, and the Taylor Swift cover is diabolical (though there is definitely a sense of purposeful awareness attached), but apart from that the faults in this 5 track opus are insignificant. I regularly found myself dancing statically and throwing my hands up like it was Detroit. Long live Peaches, both the best animal and the best jungle producer in chiptune.

 

Blitz Lunar- Triptunes

Produced in Logic and utilising sounds from various trackers, released on Ubiktune and with fantastic cover art by the hugely talented ‘ui’, this had all the markings of pure quality.  It doesn’t disappoint. I often steer away from making comparisons between chiptune and VGM, as to do so feels descriptively weak and lazy, but Blitz Lunar’s debut full length honestly encompasses a soundtrack to the last 20 years of video game history.  The industry is doing itself a disservice by not coaxing a soundtrack from this fantastic composer.

The first three tracks, ‘You (and a prefix)’ sound exactly like the releases’ title implies; insane psychedelic chiptune melding elements of 80s electronica and breakbeat into jazz prog; Zan-Zan-Zawa-Veia crossed with C-Jeff through Dillinger Escape Plan. The end of ‘You Universe’ leads nicely into the rest of the album’s calming embrace, spiralling into psychedelic ambient space jams at the drop of a hat, a further manifestation of Blitz’s incredible composition prowess. ‘Honest Truth Zone’ flirts with more familiar chiptune sounds whilst displaying hints of Flying Lotus, and ‘Hidden Heaven’ and ‘Comfort Zone’ have a contemporary Nintendo vibe about them.

There is dip in the album’s quality between ‘Comfort Zone’ and ‘Ego Bubble Zone’ though. Whilst all the tracks sound fantastic (I’d like to in particular note ‘Holyday’s audio personification of cute quaintness), there isn’t much that keeps the tracks memorable; they flitter by with incredible grace but with little emotional substance. But there is more than enough to keep fans of chiptune, video game scores or electronic music in general ecstatically happy. One of those debuts that really was worth the wait. Nintendo, take note.

 

Ralp- Petaxer

Known as much for his huge back catalogue of chip as for running Spanish label Low Toy, Ralp returns with another bruising manifestation of club-ready tunes and complex LSDJ/Nanoloop programming, this time in the form of the 24 track progressive monster ‘Petaxer’.

Following the similar trait of previous albums, ‘Petaxer’ almost plays as a single, uninterrupted song. Couple this with the fact the release is only 30 minutes long, those swayed by the huge track count should not let themselves be put off, as what lies within is a tour de force of bite sized LSDJ and Nanoloop mastery.  Ideas are dropped instantly at their peak of quality, flitting to something new , giving the release an unmatched urgency and pace. There is also a huge amount of diversity; ‘Lubra’, ‘Utoh’ and ‘Mitical’ all explore swaggering hip hop beats and melodies.  ‘Psudasco’, ‘Oblea’ and ‘Pungo’ are all gut punches of bass, Monodeer via KODEK, and every track from ‘Toeph’ onwards cranks up the melodic mastery leading to a euphoric and urgent climax on ‘Statoplax’.

You’d thinks with so many tracks there’d be a fair few undesirables. There aren’t. There is nothing but quality here.  Whether you want driving dance floor destroyers like ‘Daxa’ or glitched out melodies in tracks like ‘Virtua’, ‘Petaxer’ shows quite efficiently how versatile both LSDJ and Nanoloop can be in the right hands. One of the best releases of the year, if not ever, in chiptune.

 

shanebro – When Hearts And Minds Collide

Relatively new to the scene, LSDJer shanebro recently put out his first full length and second release overall, ‘When Hearts And Minds Collide’. With a fantastic track on last year’s ChipWINter compilation, it was with enthusiasm that I began listening. However, it quickly became apparent that shanebro would have been much better off releasing another EP or two before tackling a full length.

The theme seems to be balance, as every moment of euphoria is almost instantaneously marred by bad composition or instrument choices. The build in opener ‘The Ballad of the Electric Tigers’ is tense and thick, but the peak is half-hearted and limp. ‘Hakai’ has some wonderful orient-tinged melodies, but they feel underdeveloped, and when the track does find its feet it’s abruptly ruined by a horrid bridge.  Also, both ‘One World, Two Different Axels’ and ‘Semopnume Kashiwazki’ have great melodies but suffer from over-repetition, and ‘Our Final Moments’ is just an exercise in blandness.

It’s an honest shame, as the guy clearly has a shed full of talent. Moments in ‘It’s Happening’ are brilliant, the staccato semi-quaver sections especially, and after the track speeds up it’s highway cyberpunk at its very best. ‘Akarin Is Love’ and the title track are both rife with great melodies and the track featuring Auxcide, ‘Threat Level Midnight’, takes the best of both artists and blends them into an emotive whirlwind of melodic nuance and killer beats. That being said, for a release titled ‘When Hearts And Minds Collide’ there isn’t much heart or apparent thought gone in to detail. There is so much potential here, it’s just unfortunate it hasn’t been fully realised yet.

 

Yerzmyey- Brutal And Aggressive

ZX Spectrum powerhouse Yerzmyey is returning after 6 years to 8bitpeoples to deliver a collection of Spectrum tracks. His 2nd release this year, and another chance for Yerzmyey to prove again to the newer generation who were enlightened by the success of last October’s ‘Strange Light Under My Bed’, that there is a reason he’s still around.

Opening with the epic ‘Dark Galactica’, a string of brilliant melodies and slow-shifting atmospheres, made only more effective after being considered in retrospect. Album closer ‘Alone’ also delivers fury with borderline metal melodies, staccato and kicks the size of houses. The opening of ‘IM35’ swiftly moves from Tubular Bells homage to crunchy, thick bass thuds, sounding like a sledgehammer being dragged along concrete.

Elsewhere however, the mood is starkly different. ‘Get Mad’ tastes oddly like Europop (cheesy trance influences and all), and ‘STandard Crap’ is an 80s dance number heaving under the weight of its own percussion and melodic interplay. There are some duller moments; past the two minute mark ‘IM35’ gets nigh-on unbearable due to jarring instrument choices, and ‘Get Mad’ and ‘Haunted Mansion’ constitute a dip in quality over other tracks, but overall? Another Yerzmyey release, another slice of chiptune gold and another example of how he is one of the few from the ‘2006-8’ generation that has managed to stay relevant, interesting, and dazzlingly exciting.

Favourite track: Alone

ChipWIN Tracks: #18 – #23

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Hey toys and joys! It’s your boy Kuma back from his hiatus fighting gorillas and asking people to tell me their secrets!  And in turn, I’ve learned so many things.  So, so many dark and terrible things about all of you.

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

But that’s not what this is about!  This article is about us pushing to get these ChipWIN Volume 1 write-ups written & released so we can make way for the upcoming Vol. 2!
So with that being said, let’s get started!

ChipWin Track 18:  Total Disaster by deadbeatblast

Founder of the BitMasters netlabel — which has produced work by artists such SMILETRON, Whitely, StarPilot and Kedromelon — the Canadian who calls himself Jake Deadbeat is incredibly skilled at what he does.  Whether you’re into jungle dnb, ambient breakbeat or thematically epic chiptune, if you enjoy music that both inspires intense moods and visuals as well as makes you want to get up and bust-a-move, this is an artist you should definitely pay attention to.  You can check out deadbeatblast’s other work (including my favorite song by him, Hyperspace V. 1.2) on Soundcloud, or follow what he and several other artists are up to through his netlabel.

ChipWin Track #19: The Out by crashfaster

Founder of 8bitSF and co-counder of monobomb records along with minusbaby, Morgan Tucker may arguably be the most prominent and passionate promoter and producer of lo-fi electronic music and chiptune on the west coast, and his love for both is evident in everything he does.  Having rocked a of wide array of abandoned tech from modded Gameboys and C64s to Vocoders and 808s, crashfaster has crafted some of the catchiest chiptune as an artform that the genre has to offer. Creating songs with incredibly dancey rhythms and drum lines to reflective lyrics like those of the song “time” to instrumental grooves such as “ascension”, Morgan knows how to get a crowd moving  (even if it is to lyrics that are sometimes heartbreaking as hell).

Perhaps the most notable aspect of crashfaster is its transformation from being a formidable solo act to being a 4 person hivemind with the inclusion of Ryan Case on guitar, Devin Nixon on drums, and Amy English with her incredibly sultry vocals. The result has been an act that has gone on to rock some of the coolest venues across the country, including the DNA Lounge in San Fran, I/O Chip Music showcase in NYC, PAX East Jamspace 2013, and, most importantly, MAGFest 11 this past January. If crashfaster is your thing, you should definitely keep up with them on Facebook, and check their homepage for upcoming events.

ChipWin Track #20: Harmonix by Iamcloud

Surprisingly young for someone in the chiptune scene, Frostbyte — the artist formerly known as Iamcloud — is a classically trained guitarist whose tutelage has provided a strong musical foundation for an artist who has gone on to rock the monthly Ustream concert series Clipstream by producing electrical, vivid, colorful music that invokes as much passion aurally as it does visually.  The result is a synesthetic experience that can only be described as awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that even more prominent musicians such as Br1ght Pr1mate have taken the time to personally express their amazement at how deftly skilled Frostbyte is, as he and other young contemporaries such as Vince Kaichan and Dire Hit (other young upstarts who are also still in high school) have come to represent the full promise and potential of the next generation of chipmusic.  But don’t let Harmonix be the only evidence of his awesomeness: head on over to his Bandcamp and let albums such as SHUT IT AND DANCE 2012 EP speak for themselves.

ChipWin Track #21: Did You? by Fraktal Face

Patrick Phillips aka Fraktal Face is a regular attendee/participant of events like Pulsewave, I/O Chip Music and Control Flow in NYC as well as an artist on the Jellyfish Frequency netlabel and a staple of the New York City chipscene.  Whether he’s performing or composing, Pat brings a combination of videogame nostalgia and love of DnB, trance, 80s house, and techno to the chipscene and does it incredibly well.  The result, while sometimes lengthy (Patrick has become notorious for being the guy who needs more than 5 minutes at open mic) is always worth it.  Fraktal Face is one of the few musicians I’ve found in the chip scene that know how to not only build up to an awesome experience with each song, but know how to wind it down and end it just right, as well.  While “Did You?” is definitely a strong example of the amazing skill set he has as an electronic musician, “Battle Face” is a noisier, more frenetic example of this same skill that’s highly reminiscent of music from games of the 32Bit era of gaming, particularly games such as Zero Divide. Its unusually pleasing pitched noise frequencies, heavy bass and glitchy rhythms just make you wanna get down. If you wanna keep up with Fraktal Face, Soundcloud is the way to go. He doesn’t post frequently, but when he does, it’s always worth it.

Chipwin Track #22: Stardrive by NickelPUNK

A skilled musician who’s been honing his craft for 12+ years and has produced soundtrack work for various computer games, Sean combines his classical sensibilities with the passion of his inner gamer to create music that appeals to a wider audience than expected.  Whether it’s a foray into darker tones with industrial pieces such Trant Raznor, more traditionally sounding chip/vgm work he’s done for games such as Laser Bombs 2.Bro, or vocal tunes such as Lost the Deposit–a song that reflects on a relationship gone awry– NickelPUNK is an musician that consistently delivers powerful, thought provoking music with each release he puts out.

For those of you who are digging Stardrive, or for those of you who enjoy vocals with their chiptunes, I do highly recommend downloading I Miss Boston or his surprise release EP, All I Could Do (which features a track with vocals from our very own Ryn!).  I also recommend checking out his work on Soundcloud, as you can also listen to music he’s contributed to video games such as Bosses Forever 2.Bro, as well as a preview track off his soon to be released EP, The Image of Cool.

Chipwin Track #23: Special Beam Cannon by Chip’s Challenge

Taking their name from the signature puzzle game of yesteryear, this young trio of upstarts from Rochester who have helped define the upstate New York chiptune scene deftly combine their skills to make aural awesomeness.  The fusion of Karl von Steuben’s hard hitting drums and joyful synths and chips coupled with the rhythmic chords of Zach Sigmund’s guitar and groovaliciousness and topped off by the syncopated licks of Ben Wheeler’s bass result in instrumental mayhem that would make lovers of Rush’s YYZ turn their heads and say “Woah”.  From tracks such as “One More Step“, which is reminiscent of post rock legend Maybeshewill’s “I’m in awe, Amadeus!”, to their signature self proclamation song “We are Chip’s Challenge”, this mathematical trifecta has crafted a formula that consistently results in infectious, face melting music to party hard to!  Don’t take my word for it: hit up their Soundcloud or better yet, their Bandcamp and download their live album Chip’s Challenge Live(s)!, and marvel at the fact that this is one band that’s just as amazing in person as they are in studio.

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Relevant Links:
Artist Facebook Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Artist Music Access Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte | Fraktal Face |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Record Labels and Promotional Venues:
Rochester Chip | Jellyfish Frequency | 8bitSF | monobomb |
BitMasters | I/O | Chipmusic | Pulsewave | 8static

ChipWIN Track #9: Elevation by SMILETRON

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Without further ado or stalling, I present to you track #9 from the original Chiptunes = Win compilation by none other than…

SMILETRON

The nice thing about this track is that it provides a counterpoint to the rest of the collection. Most, if not all of the other 50 songs, are fairly upbeat if not insanely upbeat. Yet when you first start listening to Elevation, you’re not hit with chiptunes. You’re not even hit with anything particularly upbeat! You’ve just got a solo guitar doodling away in a bluesy fashion, which slowly picks up a bassline, and then finally some chip bloops. While the guitar slowly gets more and more complex, the bassline and beat pretty well stay the same. It’s very soothing. Later in the song, you hear a clip of astronauts talking about blowing smoke rings in zero gravity. You might imagine this song to be the soundtrack of someone just floating around in space next to a space shuttle – at once, serene and calm, but with enough going on for you to take in that nothing seems boring.

Basically, I love this track, even though I thought I was going to hate it. I’m very much the “MAN I NEED MY BEEPITY BOOPITY TUNES FAST AND THUMPING AND CRAZY!” But the more I listen to this track, the more I realize that smooth, slow tracks like this have their place too. It’s like anything, you’ve got to have some sort of balance to really appreciate the differences.

Looking at SMILETRON’s extended library of music (which he’s thankfully got compiled in one place on his website – a dot-org, I might add, meaning he’s super fancy), you see the ability to express a theme over several songs instead of just one. There is a great deal of variation in his work – there’s something not only for the people who like super upbeat music like me, but there are a great deal of calmer tracks, be they in the same vein as Elevation, or more of a trance kind of feel. For an album that has a pretty good balance between flavors, check out Equinox, which you can find…oh, right under this paragraph. How handy is that?

Also, keep on the lookout – over the past month or so, ol’ SMILETRON’s been all over the Intertubes, spreading chippy goodness. You can often find him in his own jamspace on his website, which he’ll use to live stream some sets, which is awesome!

\m||m/

SMILETRON links:
http://www.smiletron.org/
http://smiletron.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/smiletron

A Chat With The Bitman

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Sup y’all? =) Hoodie here. Got something a bit different for you this time. My last videogamedj.com Friday Freakout (11/16) was a write-up on The Bitman & his latest chipalbum “Epic Elevator Music“. During the course of writing it, I asked him for a few thoughts, comments on the album, etc. to include in the article to give it a little extra color. Instead THIS is what I got: an hour’s worth of quality chat & awesome stories. Too much to use in the FF write-up, but way too damn cool to keep to myself. Enjoy~ \m||m/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brandon Hood aka Hoodie: Mostly, just give me some thoughts on this album in general. How you feel about it as a whole, the tracks, what inspired it, etc. Talk about it a bit. I’ll grab a few of those thoughts and stick ’em in there as they work. =D

Max Dolensky aka The Bitman: Alright.

Hoodie: More or less, talk about your music a bit. More informal than an interview. Just whatever you think/feel. =D

Bitman: The first tracks for the album started in late March. I had just banged out a decent EP for Noisechannel after “owning up to my stupid newb claim” that i could write 10 good minutes of music in 10 days. I took a three week hiatus from writing, and reflected on that EP. I was disgusted by it for a while. I said to myself “it’s not melodic enough, the chord progressions are boring, it’s too… plain…”

So I started the song that became “Southern Shuffle Scuffle,” mostly just nailing down the atmosphere with the string-bass style WAV and noise channel being a detuned pitch for musical effect.

Next up was “Blue Beat,” seeing as the last song I had produced with a Latin feel “Let It Slide, Humbug” from my Nimbus album was a bit of a failure though it showed so much potential. It, like the other songs, wasn’t strong or had a catchy hook but not much else.
So I strode to make a funky bassline, and then slap a cool syncopated Latin line on top of it. I’d say it is almost as simple as my earlier works, but overall the atmosphere and sound design lend themselves well to the simplicity.

At this point in like late April, the noisechannel crew was throwing some sort of streaming/show your WIP’s party. I played these two songs, in chunks, and was greeted with praise from the likes of Mikee and Freque, as well as Awesome Force and Nic (later to be known as Protoflight). That was the first bit of the catalyst.

Then, for a brief 3 month period, I bothered to freshen up my skills in Ableton Live, and continue producing tracks in LSDJ. In Ableton I played with lots of rock and dubstep sort of things, as well as hip hop and jazz. I wound up making a conceptual track “Mourning Glory” that was very doom-esque in atmosphere, featuring instrumentation by myself on euphonium and trombone in addition to my chip roots.

During this time, I was home from college for the summer working at a children’s summer camp by day, and DJ’ing by night. Occasionally I would visit the only open mic open to under-21’s in my part of Alabama – a bluegrass open mic. This open mic inspired me to write a sort of blue-grassy track called “Boom Shakalaka,” drawing upon my Southern upbringing. I remember going onstage and playing the track for the 25 or so people, and getting a few jaws to drop. It’s hard competing against greybeards who have been playing fiddle, guitar, and mandolin for longer than you’ve been alive, but I feel like I held my ground okay.

Hoodie: hahaha That’s awesome!! Sorry, man. Just the thought of that. HEROIC STATUS.

Bitman: I was very moved by the lovely scenery here in Alabama, the mountains and forests, etc. This song started the small trilogy within the album.

Then, I worked on a few other tracks, most of which I have backed up and left to rot on my hard drive for now. I was hoping to pump out some fresh tunes for BRKfest.

BRKfest was a curious thing – I basically had to plead for shanebro to come so I could bum a ride off of him. I had contacted Solarbear countless weeks before I even dropped 10 Day EP, promising I’d have better music, and he put me in on the roster. My parents were not thrilled. haha Unfortunately, we both had overprotective mothers, who were concerned that we would go partying/getting drunk/have public sex/smoke pot/never come home, or whatever. So Shane’s mom and grandfather went with us to Lexington, Shane’s family leaving from New Orleans and picking me up in Birmingham.

We went to BRKfest, and apparently this is where I made a name for myself. In these two days I grew up more as a person and musician than I had in my whole life.

Shane and I talked a bit about LSDJ, Gameboys, and music theory (something Shane still isn’t strong in formally, but he has amazing ears, I dare say better than mine) for the long 8 or so hour drive. Shane was one of the first people to comment on my tracks back when I first started chiptune. There’s nothing better than feeling like your travel companion is like your biggest fan. He and his family were kind and made the trip extremely nice. :)

We got to Lexington, and I stand alongside the likes of SMILETRON, Nestrogen, and Kitsch at his table outside Al’s Bar, the venue for the first night. It’s like getting to be backstage at a rock concert, to a degree.

I went to Kitsch’s table, and bought a bunch of gear (including the first clear cases to be formally sold, he signed my battery cover :3) We discussed the quint, Gameboy programming, and even his upcoming projects. He was floored by what I knew (apparently), and we made sure to talk a lot. We still message and email a few times per month.

The first night I did not play, but instead I was blown away by artist after artist. The next night, I had to follow Saskrotch. Of all artists, one of the thrashiest dudes ever. I was all like “Oh crap, what do I do? I know, Saskrotch is such a troll on chipmusic.org. I will write a parody of Eye of the Tiger, and totally diss chipmusic.org since I don’t like the site.”

This is where I finally grew up.

I didn’t know all the words to my parody by heart, so I grabbed my trombone and played along after failing through the first verse verbally. So I just kind of opened with Eye of the Tiger Possibly the funniest thing to do after following a massive artist.

Hoodie: hahhahhahha You ARE my hero for that!!

Bitman: From there I played some songs, and my stage fright was getting the best of me. I was playing songs I wasn’t too fond of, from my older releases. Then, my soul sister PANDAstar got onstage. She and I danced, and got the crowd moving. I finally believed in my music a bit because someone else really did.

Hoodie: -grins and listens-

Bitman: It was then I said “Screw it. I’m playing you guys some new material. It will blow you away.” And this is where, according to Kitsch, I made chip history:

I played “Mourning Glory” live.

Hoodie: Oh shi-

Bitman: Mic’d trombone, everything. And no one saw it coming. A flat 109 beats per minute doom-jazz-ballad. Booming out of the ridiculous rented speakers.

Hoodie: hahahahah

Bitman: People were confused at first.
And then, they began to sway.
Then, the drunk couples made out.
Then, so did the sober ones.

Hoodie: hahahaha

Bitman: And there I was, serenading them with my greasy trombone tone (I am more of a New-Orleans swing guy than I am bebop or classical, in terms of sound and style). It was then I had balls, and they were eating out of my hand.

Hoodie: I can tell! I *LOVE* that style of jazz. Christian Scott = my favorite jazz artist. A trumpet player, but still, similar brass style

Bitman: So, it only made sense. I was in Kentucky. The blue grass state.

Hoodie: Uh huh.

Bitman: So I booted up Boom Shakalaka, the song I had played at the open mic earlier.

Hoodie: hahaha

Bitman: And I said to the crowd that this was a bluegrass-dub tune. And I left the thing in song mode, having fun, and stealing every glance at the dumbstruck smile on Roboctopus’s face. I regret nothing. Seeing the approval of one of my 3 idols (the other two being Danimal Cannon and Zef) gave me immediate gratification.

And then something else happened. Everyone started getting on stage. Like, Hunterquinn, andarugo, a very drunk datacats, and Mikee. And Curtis told me I had one song left.
So I played my one “banger” Joel the Cube master, a slow-thrash at 160 BPM, taking the audience through power rips and rumbling wubs. At that point, shirts were off, and even Curtis was a bit speechless.

Hoodie: hahhahhah

Bitman: Literally, Pandastar, Curtis and I were the basically only people onstage with shirts.

HoodieBeautiful.

Bitman: And I asked Curtis if I could close with a 1 minute singalong. So, I booted up my cover of Party Rock Anthem.We had fun singing through the first segment of the song, and I cut to my super-secret dubstep drop. Then all the shirts should have been off (Curtis and Pandastar remained modest) and hunterquinn threw his, and it got caught in the rafters of the bar.

Hoodie: Perfect!

Bitman: Mikee got my trombone and used it to fish the shirt down (I had to pick him up, poor dude is super short). Video evidence of hunter’s shirt being in the rafters is on Youtube here. After that, it occurred to me that these people really cared about my music, theirs, and really everyone.

Later that night, around 3AM, BRkfest’s sound guy had an afterparty at his basement. So Shane and I went. We were due to leave at 5 AM to head home. So, KKrusty played this epic cover of “The Final Countdown,” and I was there with my DMG and my trombone. We made eye contact. He nodded at me, I put the horn up, and took a solo in C blues, matching the song’s key of C minor. Apparently it was really good. I don’t remember much of it. xD People went ape for it, I was barely lucid, sleep wasn’t something they had a lot of at BRKfest.

Then it was my turn to play. So, I booted up my last unplayed song of the whole festival, my thrash cover of “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters. I played along on trombone, soloed, hit the high notes. I had time to shake hands, pack my horn up, and hoof it to Curtis’s in time for Shane’s mom to pick us up. I fell asleep before we left Lexington, and I woke up 15 minutes away from home in Birmingham. After that, I took a songwriting break until I moved in to college.

Within a month I had laid foundation for all my other songs, and I was contemplating releasing an EP with horns. What ended up happening was me getting involved in two pep bands, the marching band, a jazz group, all while balancing basically 18 hours of classes and a girlfriend. So I decided to milk a single LSDJ release for all I could, since one Gameboy was all I could carry with me around campus and use at any time. I was listening to tons of Danimal Cannon’s “Roots” and Roboctopus’s “Victory Lapse” at this time.

Hoodie: Excellent releases! A couple of my favorites, no doubt.

Bitman: By late September, I had finished all the songs except for Roboctocephalopod and Appalachian Wanderer. Those two were special. I originally wrote Robo’s song as an attempt to emulate Robox’s style. Instead I made a similarly atmospheric piece to his tracks with a rich bass solo and simple Pulse channel accents and melodies. It reeked of his influence, so it was named after him.

Hoodie: Yeah, I can totally hear the nod to Michael, but you still made it yours just the same.

Bitman: The other song, Appalachian Wanderer, was my attempt at envisioning Robox making dubstep.

Hoodie: Awesome.

Bitman: I wrote it in about 4 hours on a bus while I was in Tennessee with the marching band, and I again got to see the Appalachian mountains and all the lovely Fall leaves that I had seen in July on my way to Lexington for BRKfest.

Hoodie: Absolutely beautiful part of the country, especially in the fall. Very striking, inspirational scenery, no doubt about it.

Bitman: The hardest thing about the album though – was labeling it with a name and a genre. Or genres.

Hoodie: It isn’t one! haha Wildly varying styles! Part of what makes it great.

Bitman: I settled on “Epic Elevator Music” because it plays off of “common” elevator music stereotypes – easy listening latin, bluegrass, jazz, and electronic ambience. From there, it was a matter of dealing with the fact that all of my releases sound wildly different. Nimbus was very “my-first-album-09-glory-days-like” for chiptune, while Ten Day EP was grungy WAV-tastic stuff like what was “cool” in the chipstep-sort of area, but lacking in melodic movement for the most part.This release, I feel is a bit ahead of itself. It all fits in terms of general sound design, attention to detail, and duration.

The one song I left out – Solemn – is very special & is included on the album almost by accident. Shanebro and I have been working on a collaborative 1xLSDJ project called “Ikalyde”. Much like how Frostbyte and Kedromelon joined forces to make iamclouD, we are literally building upon each other’s works to make a tag-team album.

Hoodie: Love shanebro. Definitely approve of this pairing

Bitman: We had talked about this long before “The Sky Is Ours” saw release, probably a whole 7 weeks or so (which is actually a pretty long time in our work). We basically worked on two songs in quick succession, trying to produce a theatrical chip album telling the story of two aliens coming to earth in the early 1910’s.The styles starts out aggressive and synthy, but when their space ship is knocked off course by something unknown, they hurtle through the universe towards earth where they are greeted by organic things represented as acoustic instruments, and swing, which will be featured in the EP. The aliens then change mankind’s perception of music with a jamming radio broadcast, exposing man to electronic unce. From there, we track the progression of rock and roll, blues, bebop, metal and trance in man’s attempt to replicate the music of the aliens. Eventually, the aliens leave, and man almost forgets about the music, until one day earth’s electronics receive interference, and receive the music once more. Given the technology we have today, the humans literally are called and respond with their simple electronic music (chiptunes). Our dream is to eventually have it animated as a 18 minutes short or something.

Shanebro included “Shut Up and Fight” on his EP, so I decided to include “Solemn” on my release to complement it. From there, we have no more finished songs, but it is up and coming.

Here’s what you can look forward to from me in the future – an almost-exclusively Ableton EP with doom jazz and chip, a collab on a chipstep tune with Ballooonbear, and Ikalyde will come back strong this spring and possibly appear as a joint act at BRKfest. I also have a Christmas song in the works. I’m a busy guy. haha Sorry if I typed way too much. xD

Hoodie: NO. Apology not accepted. haha

Bitman: lol
To be honest, we need a full BRKfest writeup. So much epic.

Hoodie: I would give you a fucking bear hug right about now if I could. hahahah Good stuff man! My adventures & experiences within both the VGM and chipscenes the past few years are filled with similar goodness. I won’t even get started on that because then we’ll be here all night and I’ve gotta finish these writeups. hahaha

Bitman: I’m a bit frustrated with myself for being in this scene for a year and a half, and just now starting to get some real traction, but it’s good to see I’m moving into the scene a bit more. Currently I am getting ready to take a song writing break for a few months after I am done with this stuff.

Hoodie: I’d say you’ve figured out a really good pace for that. Should work out just fine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that sums it up! Hope you enjoyed the read as much as I did! I have a feeling it won’t be the last of them in this style. ;)

Also, if you’ve yet to check out The Bitman’s chipjams, here’s a solid bevy of links to help you fix that pronto:

http://thebitman.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theBitman

Chiptunes = WIN \m|♥|m/ compilation RELEASED!!!!!!

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Just in case you missed the announcement Monday night during the VERY CRAZYAWESOME, VERY AWESOMECRAZY listening/release party on 8 Bit Power Hour on Areciboradio (peak listeners for the night = 281!!!!!), THIS BAD BOY IS OUT!!!! SNAG IT AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE AND SHARE IT EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if you lurve it sooooooo much (VERY LIKELY) that you feel like wearing a Chiptunes = WIN shirt, 4 buttons, and SIXTY ONE STICKERS (!!!!!), you can snag that related merchy goodness for only $15 (!!!!!) RITE CHAR (char):

~SOLD OUT~

Again, MUCH LOVE AND THANKS  to everyone involved in the project, and to all the listeners/supporters/CRAZY AWESOME people that love chiptunes….

A WINNER IS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

\m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ \m|♥|m/ 

FINAL CHIPTUNES = WIN COMPILATION POST – FULL ARTIST & TRACK LISTING!!!!!!!!! \m|♥|m/

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ALRIGHTY THEN.

By now you’ve probably heard of this thing; you’ve checked out the initial ChipWIN 480+ member strong Facebook group and spinoff Facebook Page; you’ve seen the RIDICULOUS(LY AWESOME) promo video; you’ve seen Nate Horsfall aka Foxdragon’s AMAZING art for the project; you’ve got the 8 Bit Power Hour Areciboradio listening party invite (HAPPENS TOMORROW, MONDAY, JUNE 4TH, AT 7PM CENTRAL TIME ZOMG!!!); you’ve heard teaser tracks on Geekbeat LeRadio and Nerd Rock Radio for the past few weeks; you’ve read posts on Dj Cutman’s blog videogamedj.com and here on the 8bitX provided blog; you’ve seen Boston 8 Bit Maddie the Merch Fairy’s merch teasers (MORE TO COME SOON!!!); you’ve seen countless friends, Chipartists, and VGM peoples facebooking, tweeting, tumblering, WUTTEHFUKEVARING about it nonstop for the past couple months. All you’re waiting on now is to download the compilation. And you can. TOMORROW NIGHT.

But for now…

HOW ABOUT A FULL ARTIST/TRACK LIST TO PERUSE AT YOUR LEISURE??? (in ABC order; final sequencing unveils tomorrow with the Bandcamp release). Yeah, that’s what I thought. 8) Read this and FEEL THE HYPE ALL THE WAY DOWN IN YOUR BONES/SOUL/JUNK/BONESOULJUNK!!!!!!

\m||m/

1. 4mat – Tetra
2. Abducted by Sharks – Late to the Party
3. Active Knowledge – Lucidosity
4. Algoorithm (Chris Algoo) – While We Can, Party
5. AWESOMECAT – パーティーで最もきれいな女の子
6. Ben Landis – Breakthrough
7. Br1ght Pr1mate – Sexy & I Know It
8. Brick Breaker – Dusk Runner
9. Cartoon Bomb – Earthworm Facts
10. Cheapshot – Jambo
11. Chip’s Challenge – Special Beam Cannon
12. Chipzel – Can’t Stop Us
13. Crashfaster – The Out
14. Da Pantz – Real In The Field
15. Daniel Capo – Wake
16. Danimal Cannon – The Lunar Whale
17. Datacats – Small Wonders
18. deadbeatblast – Total Disaster
19. Decktonic – Africa
20. Diamond Machine – Hey! (No E)
21. Fraktal Face – Did You
22. iamclouD – Harmonix
23. Inverse Phase – Three-stage
24. Iron Curtain – Assault At The Front Door
25. Jay Tholen – On Stolen Time
26. K.O.M.H. – Kogeki no Kiken
27. Kedromelon – Titan 2
28. Kubbi – Tidal Force
29. KymAz – Nebulae
30. LukHash – PixeLove
31. Monodeer – No Particular Reason
32. Nario – Hallucinogenic Ethics
33. nickelPUNK – StarDRIVE
34. Obtuse – Ecstasy
35. Phonetic Hero – Bat Outta Hell
36. PROTODOME – Four Color Hero
37. RobotSexMusic – It’s Never Enough
38. Sam Mulligan – Secret
39. Sean Monistat – This Computer Can Read Lips
40. SKGB – Infinite Cheap Death Tricks
41. SMILETRON – Elevation
42. Snesei – Button Mash
43. Space Town Savior – Columbia
44. Starpilot – Sparkling
45. Stenobot – Shark Flower
46. Super Danger Casper – Berbaris Satu Arah
47. Temp Sound Solutions – Sleepwalking In Tennessee
48. Thorazine Unicorn – Dreaming Machine
49. Whitely – You & Him
50. Xenon Odyssey – Quotidian
51. Zef – Pure Voltage